the “gotchas” of free software

Posted in: technology- Feb 01, 2014 No Comments

There is some really good free software out there. I use quite a lot of it. This is partly for the obscenely obvious reason, but also partly because — in the the world of computers — the adage that “you get what you pay for” simply isn’t always true (and, in fact, sometimes it is 180 degrees from reality).

But the adage that “there’s no free lunch” still holds.

Some free software, as you’re installing it, will attempt to install other (unrelated, and unwritten by them) software. The company that you are dealing with is actually getting paid money by these third-party developers to do this (as this extraneous software generates money for the third party). And so this is part of why the original company can offer its product for free.

Installing this third-party software is a Bad Idea — such software is almost always a memory hog, is very rarely of any value to you, often invades your privacy, and can be next to impossible to fully uninstall. (Case in point: if you ever see the word “toolbar” or the phrase “make this my default”, run screaming. I would get more specific, but fear a lawsuit.)

Any software installation worth its salt will give you an option of (1) “standard install” (or maybe “express install”) or (2) “custom install”. Always choose “custom install” so that you can unselect all this extraneous junk. Now there may be other legitimate *options* presented during the custom install (Should we create a desktop icon? Do you want the Elbonian language pack?), so don’t blindly reject everything.

Just be careful.

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